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NRL match preview: Round 19

Barnett, M 170318107 copy

After a last-gasp defeat to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs last Sunday, the nib Newcastle Knights are back at home this weekend.

It's a relatively short turnaround and the Broncos are coming off a bye, so recovery will be crucial for the Novocastrians.

NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v BRISBANE BRONCOS

Date: Saturday July 15
Gates open: 1pm
Kick-off: 5.30pm
Venue: McDonald Jones Stadium

HEAD-TO-HEAD

Played: 46
Knights: 13
Broncos: 32
Drawn: 1

SQUADS

Newcastle
1. Nathan Ross, 2. Chanel Mata’utia, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Peter Mata’utia, 5. Brendan Elliot, 6. Brock Lamb, 7. Trent Hodkinson, 8. Daniel Saifiti, 9. Danny Levi, 10. Josh King, 11. Sione Mata’utia, 12. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 13. Mitch Barnett. Interchange: 14. Jamie Buhrer, 15. Luke Yates, 16. Joe Wardle, 17. Jacob Saifiti, 18. Sam Stone, 19. Jacob Gagan, 20. Tyler Randell, 21. Mickey Paea.

Brisbane
1. Jordan Kahu, 2. Jamayne Isaako, 3. James Roberts, 4. Tautau Moga, 5. Jonus Pearson, 6. Benji Marshall, 7. Ben Hunt, 8. Korbin Sims, 9. Andrew McCullough, 10. Adam Blair, 11. Sam Thaiday, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Alex Glenn, 15. Tevita Pangai, 16. Joe Ofahengaue, 17. Kodi Nikorima, 18. Salesi Funaki, 19. Jai Arrow, 20. Jaydn Su’a, 21. Anthony Milford, 22. Marion Seve.
 
TALKING POINTS

Age is no barrier

After last weekend’s heartbreaking loss to the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs, Nathan Ross tweeted that the oldest player in the red and blues’ starting forward pack was 23.

This week it will be the same, as the Knights come up against some more experienced forwards.

Broncos prop Adam Blair is 31, while back rowers Sam Thaiday and Matt Gillett are 32 and 28 respectively.

Mitch Barnett says age is no excuse though, and it was errors that resulted in a loss against the Bulldogs.

“We played well enough to win on the weekend, there were just a couple of us that made some dumb errors at crucial stages,” Barnett explained.

“We will take some tough lessons out of that game.”

 

Two utility backs line up at fullback this week.

 

Gagai returns

Fresh from being named player of the series in this year’s Origin, Dane Gagai is set to slot back into the centres for the Knights against his old club this Saturday.

Gagai was outstanding in his last outing for the Knights against the Wests Tigers back in Round 17, and was named Players’ Player.

The Broncos also have three players returning from Origin in Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire and Gillett.

While Hunt only played seven minutes in Queensland’s win, both McGuire and Gillett played big minutes up front.

Plenty of motivation

After another narrow loss, the Knights have plenty of motivation heading into Round 19.

On top of just losing out to the Bulldogs last Sunday, the week before the team put in it’s most disappointing performance of 2017 against the Tigers in front of a big home crowd.

The players will be desperate to put their best foot forward and reward an incredibly loyal fan base

“I know our fans will get behind us and I’m very appreciative of our fans,” Barnett said on Monday.

“So many of them make the trips up to Townsville, always to Sydney, down to Melbourne... so to our fans I say thank you and hopefully they can come out this weekend and get behind us.”

THE FINAL SAY

“The Broncos are a top four team when they’re playing well and I’d expect them to be on the higher end of the table at the latter part of the year,” coach Nathan Brown said on Tuesday.

“We have got a few blokes carrying a few bumps, so apart from Gags (Dane Gagai) coming back, I wouldn’t expect any changes this week.”